THE HOLY LAND
Following in the footsteps of Jesus
An 8 day Pilgrimage to Israel and Palestine
Fr James Elston SSC
12th – 19th September 2024
I am delighted to offer this pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which will follow in the footsteps of Jesus in Galilee and Jerusalem. Let us go to Galilee and Jerusalem in order to become more fully a people who live the gospel of Jesus Christ. And may the legacy of our pilgrimage be an embodiment of prayer for the unity and peace of all God’s children.
We will begin our journey in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and continuing through the West Bank to the tranquillity of the Sea of Galilee. As we travel together we will hear again famous stories from Scripture, bringing them to new life, and we will also see and hear the implications of that Good News lives out today by the hard-pressed Christian minority of the region
Unlike many pilgrimages from Britain, this pilgrimage will not merely visit local Christians, but will also support them through the pilgrimage itself. While we are in the Holy Land, we will be looked after by a Christian owned and run travel company, and we will be staying in a Christian run hotel in Jerusalem, travelling with a Christian coach company, eating in Christian restaurants, and being escorted through the land by a Christian guide.
I invite you to come prepared to be changed by what you see, and what you will discuss with fellow pilgrims and local people. Expect to be inspired and angered by the situations and contrasts that confront you. But travel in the spirit of the disciples on the Emmaus Road, whose lives were turned around by their encounter with the risen Christ.
We will meet Palestinian Christians who trace their ancestry back in time and continue to follow the teachings of Jesus; Muslims and Jews who are trying to make sense of living in a region awash with difficulties and begin to understand what it means to be ‘people of the book’ in the harsh realities of the 21st century.
I hope you will join me!
Fr James Elston
- Scheduled flights on British Airways from London Heathrow Airport
- All airport departure & passenger taxes (UK & Israel)
- 7 nights accommodation at selected hotels
- All entrance fees and local government taxes
- Qualified English speaking guide throughout the tour
- All touring in modern air-conditioned tourist coaches
- Single room price per person £2943
- Travel insurance
- Gratuities £80
- Any items of a personal nature (laundry & drinks etc)
Day 1, Thursday 12 September
We gather at London Heathrow Airport for our morning British Airways flight to Tel Aviv. Meal served in-flight. We will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel by the Old Walled City for the first of a four night stay. There will be time to relax and freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 2, Friday 13 September
We begin our pilgrimage after an early breakfast and make our way to the Ecce Homo Convent where we will celebrate Mass. We then drive on to Bethlehem, passing through the Check-point in the 9-metre high separation wall and into Manger Square to visit the Church of the Nativity, the oldest complete church in Christendom and built over the grotto where Christ was born. After a break for lunch, we will leave Bethlehem and drive east down through the hills of the Judean Desert to the shores of the Dead Sea to Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and to view the excavated monastery of the Essene community which may have produced the famous scrolls. We then have an opportunity to bathe (float) and relax in the unique mineral-laden waters of the Dead Sea. Late afternoon we make our way back to Jerusalem and plan to arrive back at our hotel in good time to freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 3, Saturday 14 September
This morning we leave our hotel after breakfast and drive up to the summit of the Mount of Olives where we will stop for a breathtaking view of the Old City and its beautiful medieval walls. We will visit the Church of the Ascension which was converted to a mosque by Saladin in 1187. We then trace Jesus’ Palm Sunday journey from Bethphage down the mountain stopping at three churches on the way, the Church of Dominus Flevit, the Church of the Pater Noster and the Russian Orthodox Church of Mary Magdalene before finally reaching the Garden of Gethsemane and the profoundly moving Church of the Agony. We will spend some time here and in the adjacent garden. Late morning, we drive to Mount Zion to visit David’s Tomb and sites associated with the Last Supper, the Day of Pentecost and the falling asleep of Mary, before finishing our day at the church of St Peter in Gallicantu (cock crowing) built over the House of Caiaphas, the High Priest, recalling Peter’s betrayal of Jesus. We then drive to Abu Gosh, the possible site of Emmaus and break for a late lunch. In the afternoon we will visit Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant Church where we will celebrate Mass. We then return to our hotel in good time to relax and freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay In Jerusalem.
Day 4, Sunday 15 September
We begin our day by visiting St George’s Cathedral to join members of the local Christian Community for Sunday worship. Late morning we make our way to the Dung Gate and proceed through to the Western Wall, a section of the original retaining wall of the second temple esplanade which is the holiest site in Judaism. If permitted we will ascend the Temple Mount to view the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. We then make our way to the remarkable church of St Anne and the Pools of Bethesda before proceeding to the Ecce Homo Convent before we walk through the narrow alleys of the Old City following the traditional Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) culminating in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. After a break for a late lunch we drive to the village of Ein Karem, venerated as the birthplace of John the Baptist and the church associated with Mary’s meeting with her cousin Elizabeth. Finally, we make our way to our hotel in good time to relax before dinner. Overnight stay in Jerusalem.
Day 5, Monday 16 September
We leave our hotel after breakfast, bidding farewell to Jerusalem as we make our way down to the Jordan Valley and the oasis city of Jericho, stopping briefly in Wadi Qelt for a panoramic view of St. George’s Monastery which clings precariously to the rock face of the valley. We will stop at Qasr al Yehud on the banks of the River Jordan to visit the site believed to be close to where Jesus was baptised by John where we will have an opportunity to renew our baptism vows. We will then stop briefly for a view of the Mount of Temptation before breaking for lunch in Jericho, the city of Palms. In the afternoon we leave Jericho and proceed north along the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee stopping enroute at the beautifully excavated city of Beit Shean, a city of the Decapolis. It was on the walls of this city that the Philistines cut off Saul’s head and hung his body, and that of his sons. Reaching the Sea of Galilee we make our way around the lake to the city of Tiberias and our hotel on the shores of the lake arriving in good time to check-in and freshen up before dinner. Overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 6, Tuesday 17 September
After breakfast we leave Tiberias and drive across the green and fertile plains of Jezreel (the biblical scene of Armageddon) to visit the Basilica on the summit of Mount Tabor, claimed to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus before Peter, James and John and where we will celebrate Mass in the open air amongst the ruins of the original Church. On descending Mount Tabor we visit Nazareth, the town associated with the beginning of the gospel message, to see how the Good News is both remembered and lived out today. We will visit the site of the only spring in town, where Jesus’ mother will have drawn water, the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Synagogue Church. After a break for lunch we will return to our hotel to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing by the lake. Dinner and overnight stay in Tiberias.
Day 7, Wednesday 18 September
Today will be devoted to a leisurely exploration of the area that was the base for Jesus’ ministry by the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. We will visit sites associated with the call of the first disciples, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and the village of the excavations of the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, known as the `Town of Jesus"- where we will view The House of Peter and a partially reconstructed fourth century Synagogue, foundations of which date back to the time of Jesus and is probably the site where Jesus often preached. After a break for lunch we will sail on the Sea of Galilee and stop at St Peter’s Church in Tiberias for our final act of worship in the Holy Land before returning to our hotel to spend our last afternoon relaxing at our hotel or in the nearby town of Tiberias. Farewell dinner and overnight stay by the Sea of Galilee.
Day 8, Thursday 19 September
After an early breakfast and packing our bags, we leave Galilee and drive south along highway 6 for the ancient Mediterranean port of Jaffa to spend the morning exploring this beautiful Artists colony with it’s old cobbled streets, active fishing port with fishermen with their nets. Visit the quaint cafes and shops and after a break for a snack lunch we will proceed to Tel Aviv Airport and check-in for our journey home to tell all those whom we meet about what has happened to us on the road…